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Are winding checks necessary? Advantages / Disadvantages?

Looking at the different rods some have them some don't.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Necessary, no, but they do serve a purpose, purely cosmetic, in making a break point, so to speak, between the cork and the check wraps.  Some of my rods have them, some do not, just depends on what the customer wants.  Personally, I prefer a good, clean wrap right up to the cork and that's what all of my personal rods have, however, most of the rods I make for others have winding checks.  (Bob Nunley)

    Not at all. I seldom use them except if the customer want them. Their main purpose was to hide a poor fit between cork and cane. Some people feel they give a rod a more finished look.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I personally never have used winding checks on bamboo, but I'm reconsidering that.  Many of the better looking rods at the Gatherings ARE equipped with winding checks.  When one can get knurling on the check which matches the knurling on the reel seats, it does look nice.  In fact, I think a Bellinger seat, check, and ferrules -- all with the same knurl pattern -- really looks sharp.  Functionally, they add nothing.  But cosmetically they can make a difference.    (Harry Boyd)

    I like nickel silver winding checks for cosmetic touch and use them on all my rods.  I use the check as the place where I stop the rod when dip varnishing (I'm not a big fan of varnishing onto the edge of the grip. I use Jeff Wagner's winding check punches to convert round checks into hex and quad checks.  I also like and use strap and ring hook keepers.  I started buying and using cane rods in the 70's and I really liked the cosmetics of Leonard's and T&T's, which used winding checks and hook keepers.  (Bob Williams)


Just finished mounting the ferrules on a Para 14 and low and behold, my beautiful hand made hex winding check will not go over the ferrule.  I've never encountered this before, however this taper has virtually no swell.  (Dennis Bertram)

    Happened to me about a month or so ago and we discussed the problem here then. Fortunately I used ferrule titer so all I had to do was reheat the ferrule to pull it off, install the winding check, and then reinstall the ferrule. Suggest you do the same.  (Larry Puckett)

    That's happened to me more than once!  I seldom use winding checks anymore.  (Marty DeSapio)

    If you have not mounted the grip yet, try fitting it from the bottom.  It worked for me on a Para 15. Had to do a little fudging.  (Tony Spezio)


Does anyone know  the original  use for/function of winding checks?  Are they something that has been "grandfather'd" into the cosmetics of cane rods, but without a functional purpose?  (Joe West)

    From what I have read and heard over time is the winding check for the most part is decorative, with it's only true purpose to hide a poor fit between the cork and bamboo at the end of the grip. I don't use them mostly because I always forget to put it on before the ferrule. I't double wrap at the cork for 8-10 turns and then varnish coat the very end of the cork to seal the little spaces created by the hex to round difference.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Actually, the winding check not only dresses off the leading end of the grip, but it was intended to keep the cork from chipping and breaking.

    For years I've used a 10 cent coin from the Netherlands as a blank for a winding check, but I'm down to my last one.  Since the introduction of the Euro they're no longer available, so if anyone knows where I could get a dozen or so, let me know off list.  (Ron Larsen)

      Bob Milward gave a brief presentation at Corbett Lake on a die and punch made from a cap screw and an Allen wrench for making winding checks with a hexagonal hole using blanks of "little round bits of nickel silver with a picture of the Queen on one side.  And guess what?  They only cost a nickel!"  US and Canadian nickels are made from an alloy that's 25% nickel and 75% copper.  If you use the Canadian ones, be careful.  Since 1999 (and for a some interspersed  periods  before  that)  they  have   been  made   of nickel-plated steel.  You can always confirm the composition with a magnet.

      Bob grinds off the work-hardened tip of the cap screw and drills a hole through the center of the screw so you can punch pieces back out from the bottom.  Then uses a piece of an Allen wrench for the punch to cut the hex hole.  After that, you just chuck the punch in your lathe to turn the outside of the check to whatever profile you want  (Robert Kope)

    The purist in me says they are not necessary and my glass and carbon rods, which have always inclined towards minimalism, have never had any.

    But a very small neat one, and it can hardly be too small, can look nice on cane. I think nickel silver is nicer than aluminum, but some sort of gold plated metal would be even nicer.  (Robin Haywood)

    I always thought checks were to hide a poor fit between the cork and cane. They certainly look better than a gap.  (Gary Lohkamp)

      Just thought of something, could they have also been something to shield the unvarnished under grip area from moisture?

      Maybe not.  (Joe West)


I have been looking at some of the private builder sites and I noticed that a number of them don't use winding checks, but instead just wrap thread either up to or in some cases onto the cork handle.  First of all, I was wondering how many of you don't use a standard winding check but instead just use thread?   Andy then, if you wrap the thread onto the cork how do you hold it there (varnish?) and if so does it stand up to use very well?  I would think that the soft nature of the cork would cause it to compress and pull away from the thread.  (Tom Mohr)

    I don't use winding checks, preferring to use the thread as you describe.  When the cork grip is formed on the rod rather than on a mandrel,  it's simple to get a tight fit between cork and bamboo.  I ream the hole just a tad small on the uppermost ring, and force it into place.  Cork stretches enough that it readily takes on a hex shaped hole.

    I don't usually wrap up the cork.  Instead, I stop right where cork and bamboo meet.  If you do wrap up the cork, you might try a drop of super glue rather than a traditional tie-off loop.  Under the varnish, it will hold up quite well.

    Several folks here make a small "ramp" of 5 minute epoxy and let the thread ride up that ramp.  They keep the rod turning while coaxing the epoxy into shape.  (Harry Boyd)

      I've done this on several graphite rods and one bamboo. The 5 minute epoxy ramp sounds like a clever idea. I used an old bamboo blank as a mandrel, turning the cork right to the blank corners and then using sandpaper to taper the flats down. I use the same type of tie-off loop I use on guides. You don't want to wrap too tightly on the cork as it will compress unevenly.  (Henry Mitchell)

        A trick I learned from building a drift boat using a LOT of epoxy is to use fumed silica as a filler which will make the epoxy pasty so it stays in place.  This allow you to form it any way you want and as it begins to set up you can smooth it all out with a WET finger or other smooth tool.  Of course, it takes some time to thoroughly blend in the silica so you need an epoxy with a longer cure time.  You have to gradually add the silica until it no longer runs.  I never measured the exact ratios but I think it was about one volume of silica to three volumes of epoxy.  Where can you get fumed silica you might ask?  From a boat builders supply like RAKA in Fla.  (Al Baldauski)

          Just MHO, but I think you want it goopy and runny and not like a paste. Because, if its like a paste you're going to wind up having to sand it (spinning the blank) before you ramp the thread (unless you're a lot better than I am with a putty knife or spreader). I did it once a long time ago with a graphite rod and five-minute epoxy worked just fine. Besides, five minute epoxy will be easier to get off if it doesn't quite work out.  (Bill Walters)

          Another old boat builder's trick to thicken epoxy was to add powdered sugar. How much? Keep adding the PS till it gets to the consistency you want. I love simple things that work...  (Don Schneider)

            Or, you can run down to your local hobby shop, and pick up a product called "microballoons."  They're tiny glass bubbles, add very little weight, and make the epoxy sand like butter.  (Mark Wendt)

              An epoxy like Rod Bond will stay in place without having to add other material to it.  (Henry Mitchell)

      I have also used the epoxy method quite a bit.  Instead of tying off or using super glue, though, I just tape off the tag end of the tread onto the cork.  Give a spiral wind or two around the grip to keep it tight, and stick it down.  After the first coat/dip of finish, you can cut the thread with a razor for a nice clean line.

      Works best, though, if the front end of the grip isn't too steep.  AND, don't use too much thread tension.  Less is best, in this case, because it is decorative.  Too much tension and you risk having the whole thing collapse, and that ain't fun.

      As for coaxing the epoxy, glob on a bit of epoxy in a reasonable circle around the rod and hold the rod at an upright angle (not too steep) and turn it around a bit while the epoxy flows.  This creates a nice taper and you can get the epoxy flush to the front end of the cork.  Turn the rod back and forth to fill any low sections or to keep the epoxy even.

      One final caveat.  Watch out for large bubbles with the 5 minute epoxy. They won't stick up or make a hole (generally), but if you aren't careful, the bubbles may show through if the thread turn translucent after the finish is applied.  (Jason Swan)

    I recently had a rod that needed a winding check badly due to a grip with some surprise pits that appeared during final sanding. Then, of course, I forgot to put the thing on until it was way too late in the game.

    I did a Garrison style wrap up on the cork, but it looked like hell until I did it with black Size A nylon. Once it was varnished it looked no different than silk, and the thicker thread was able to cover the rough spots easily. Looked kind of cool, although I prefer a check.

    I can easily understand why makers stick with thread only. It does not matter how many winding checks you have in the shop, none of them will fit the rod you are working on at the time. Then it is either wait for the next Golden Witch order, or haul out the lathe. And then learn that the only nickel silver you have on hand is the 3/4 inch solid stuff.

    Sad, but true.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I usually use preformed grips, and it can be difficult to get a tight fit like Harry describes. I just mix up some cork dust & Elmer's glue to fill any gap at the end of the grip, and then wind the thread right up to the end of the grip.  (Tom Bowden)


Every time I cut off my cork checks using a cutoff tool the piece is not true.  The back is usually slightly domed.  Anybody know what I'm doing wrong.  Same thing happens with the butt cap.  Am I trying to cut too much with a cut off?  (Lee Orr)

    I would say the cutoff blade is not a true 90 degrees to the cork. Set the blade flush with the face of the chuck jaws. Crank the cutter blade up against the chuck Jaws and lock down the tool post.  (Tony Spezio)

      Or the cross slide isn't 90 degrees.  (Ron Larsen)

    If the piece still in the chuck has an opposite curve, then either the cutoff tool is not at 90 degrees to the lathe center line, or the tool is flexing for some reason.  Do you lock the carriage before you cut off?  If not, the carriage may be moving.

    If both the part and the scrap are domed, it sounds as if the cut off tool doesn't have enough clearance.  (Neil Savage)


Other than Jeff Wagner’s hex winding check punch, is there another product or way to make your own hex checks?  I was wondering if you could take a ring expander and grind the hex shape in. Any thoughts other than just buy one?  (Doug Hall)

    I suppose you could get a piece of hex steel and grind/file/mill it to a taper, but it would probably be more cost-effective in the long run to just buy one.  (Neil Savage)

      A few years ago at the Canadian Gathering in Canada,  the Ontario Bells Lake  group, Carol O’Connor showed me a set of Allen Hex Key wrenches which he modified for check expansion of Hex Checks.  He simply put a taper on the short end of the allen wrenches and used a hammer to tap on the angle point of the wrench.  Seems like it would work.  (Alex Wolff)

    I had one made by my local school voc. tech. shop to the specs in "Best of TPF".  They wanted less than $10 for material costs and gave a student a practical lesson in solid geometry. (David Van Burgel)

    I made one from a 1/2" allen wrench. Not all that hard to do. I heated it to red hot with a propane torch and allowed to cool to remove the temper. Then I filed a taper on the longer end until I reached a size I thought I would need. Filing seems easier to do than to try grinding a smooth taper.

    Seems to work OK. I am sure I did not attempt to retemper the tool. I believe that it is harder than any material I would use on it.  (Steve Shelton)

    When using the "punch method", how much does this distort the round winding check? That's why I've been reluctant to try the expensive hex punch. I like the idea of filing down a section of an allen wrench (I'm cheap). I set up a bracket on my lathe to lock the chuck in six different positions in the circle. Then use a small grinding bit in a Dremel tool mounted on the tool post to grind flat spots inside a nickel silver rod, then part off sections for winding checks. I usually buy them, but the quality of the last ones that I got.... Well, I'm looking for new ideas also!!  (David Dziadosz)

      Do you use a grinding tool or a cutting tool?  (Ron Grantham)

        The smallest diamond grinding bit I have is 1/16" diameter. Looking for something a little smaller. I use it in a Dremel tool.  (David Dziadosz)

    I made a round one on my lathe and then using a allen wrench, banded it with a hammer to make it hex shaped. I really didn't like the results but it "didn't " looked banged on. I just like the round looks.  (Martin Jensen)

    Get the one from Jeff Wagner, it's money well spent. I buy round rope knurled winding checks from REC(those of you with the talent, tooling and inclination feel free to make your own) and hex them myself. The formula is  flat to flat dimension in decimal inches x 66.664 = round winding check dimension in 64ths needed to hex to fit.  (John Channer)


While we're on winding checks, I recently saw a Winston (one of the last of the Brackett era) that had a bamboo winding check. It looked pretty snazzy.  Anybody have any idea how they do that?  (Darrol Groth)

    Yes, those bamboo checks are pretty nice.  A friend of mine in Sydney ( a VERY successful money market trader, as will become apparent ) caught the bamboo bug and bought three Winstons, including rods marked "Ultimate" and "Penultimate", being the last two Glenn Brackett Winstons.  Both the rods that I saw had the bamboo check, and it looked to me just as though  1/2" slices from the butt end of a swelled-grip rod were drilled out and hex-fitted with a file.

    I thought that the level of work and finish was superb all through these rods, and the matching of the Duronze fittings with a very pale yellow binding thread was spectacular.

    Bruce took them off to a fishing lodge here in Tasmania called London Lakes, where a couple of huge private lakes yield very big browns indeed - 4 to 6 pounds are common, and these are wild fish, not stockies - and the Winstons acquitted themselves very well.  Mind you, at an all-up cost of close to $1000 a day for guided fishing, not including accommodation, it would all need to be very, very good. 

    Bruce tells me that he is going to go over and see Glenn Brackett with a view to getting a couple more!  Nice to have the folding stuff, isn't it?  (Peter McKean)

    Check out the Power Fibers Winding Check on Todd's site.  Is this what you mean?  (Ron Larsen)


I've got somewhat of a dilemma.  I have already glued on my ferrules, and the winding check which fits properly will not fit over the female ferrule welt.  And, one which does clear the welt leaves a pretty good gap.  I've considered laying down a good thread base and then will place the winding check over it.  If anyone has taken this approach, how was the thread base finished prior to cementing the winding check in place?  Or, any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  (Walt Hammerick)

    You might want to try one of the polymer winding checks if that does not bother you. They are somewhat elastic and can usually be stretched over the ferrule welt. Just a thought.  (Frank Paul)

    You could just skip the check and do a wrap instead. Keep the check for another rod.  (Ren Monllor)

    I see you have joined the club. It only happens once.

    Here is what I did. It will not work for you if you have the grip glued on. I did not have the grip glued on so I was able to come in from the bottom of the blank. I had to round off the apexes under the grip so that the check would fit up to the where it had to go. I had to shim up the base a bit for the grip to make up for the removed apexes but it did work. If you have the grip glued on then the thread is about the only way to go other than a rubber check or no check..

    Since I had this happen, I slip on the check before gluing on the ferrule. I leave the grip unglued then glue it in place. The reel seat is glued on after the rod is finished so that I can sight through the reel to line up with the guides.  (Tony Spezio)

    Ooops.  Measure once, cuss twice.  :^)  You could do a Garrison style cork check wrap.  (Darrol Groth)

      Jeff Wagner uses 5 minute epoxy to protect the end of the cork then winds to that.

      I have used the thread and a large silver check with epoxy. Make sure you tape off the cork you do not want it to get on.  (Gordon Koppin)

    Tony Spezio must not be as senile as I am.  I've never had the problem on a 2 piece rod; the winding check has always fit over the ferrule.  And it's never a problem with a bamboo ferrule when the male is on the butt.  That all makes it easy to forget to put on the winding check before the ferrule on a 3 piece.  My solution has always been to remove the ferrule, install the check, and reinstall the ferrule.

    I've done it with both epoxy and urethane glues, but can't help you with other adhesives.  With epoxy, heat the ferrule, let it cool down, and it should slide right off.  With urethane, heat the ferrule quickly with high heat, grab it with a ferrule puller, and pull it off while the ferrule is too hot to touch.  Bohning told me that Powerbond will soften at around 350 degrees, and Elmer's said that temperatures over 400 degrees will weaken the joint with Probond polyurethane (Ultimate glue).  Those temperatures could damage the cane if you maintain them so you need to use high heat and work fast.  If you're uncomfortable doing that, mount a ferrule on a scrap section and practice.  One other caution:  be careful where you point that thing when you're heating it.  (Robert Kope)

      Oh yes I am Senile, This was on my second 1 wt rod. The Winding check hole is smaller than the sz 9 ferrule welt. It was the first 1 wt I made with a N/S ferrule. The very first 1 wt I made had a home made aluminum ferrule that had a smaller welt. . I learned a lesson that I keep remembering.  (Tony Spezio)

    Thanks for all the responses.  What I finally did was to build up a thread base stair step fashion, worked some 5 minute epoxy into the thread next to the cork, and fit the NS winding check.  Looks all right, but I just hate making mistakes like that.  Oh well, add that to my growing list of one more thing that won't happen again.  (Walt Hammerick)

    Sounds like a Para Taper... "-)

    The hardest part is keeping the tread stacked and orderly, hard to see what your doing past one layer...

    Seems like it took 3 or 4 layers of thread, so I tapered (stair step) them towards the cork and added tipping...

    Then I dry fit the check carefully and finish with at least one coat of spar before you place the winding check...  (Dave Collyer)


How do you guys keep varnish off the winding check and make a good interface with the wraps when dipping/draining?  (Steve Dugmore)

    I don't.  I put the winding check right down into the finish.  (Mark Wendt)


      How do you then keep the varnish off the cork at the interface with the winding check?  (Steve Dugmore)

        Tape.  I tape off the cork, then cover the grip and reel seat with Saran wrap, then tape it all together at the top.  (Mark Wendt)

    I wrap the check and up the cork about an inch with white Plumbers Tape.  Then wrap the cork with Cling Wrap (plastic wrap) . I use a  drain tube that has a plastic tube that can be squeezed. The winding check is brought to about 1/2" above the varnish and held in place at that point. I then squeeze the tube below to raise the varnish level to the check, stop, and release it slowly.  (Tony Spezio)

    For dipping.  Lower the rod into the varnish until about 1/8" between varnish surface and winding check.  Wait for a few seconds until the meniscus re-forms curving up the shaft towards the winding check.  Lower the rod a fraction at a time until the top of the meniscus just touches the winding check at one point.  Hold the rod at this position or even withdraw slightly and the varnish will run around the face of the winding check.

    Raise the rod 1/4" or so and let the excess varnish drain back.  If the varnish forms significant fillets against the winding check blow on these (lens blower) until they detach and run down or you may get runs.

    If you mess up and go too deep withdraw 1/4" and run the corner of a piece of paper towel around the check to draw off the varnish.  (Gary Marshall)

    Cut the finger off of a rubber glove and punch a small hole in the end. Stretch it over the rod and work around where you want it. Then if the rod goes deeper than you want, you'll keep the varnish off of the cork. Fast and simple!  (David Dziadosz)

      Might the powder from the glove get on the blank and cause a problem with the varnish not sticking to the blank?  (Bob Williams)

        Use unpowdered gloves.  You may have to look a bit, but they're out there.  Also, nitrile gloves (the blue ones) probably won't work.  (Neil Savage)

        Use non-powdered gloves, surely.  (Peter McKean)

      "Bottle and Balloon" varnishing in reverse?  (Neil Savage)

      Does this work with a stripper on the rod.  (Tony Spezio)

        Yes, is does work with the stripper! I punch a small hole, maybe 1/8", and I don't have any trouble stretching it over the stripper.

        I've always used the white gloves and never worried about powder. Matter of fact, I've never given it a thought! Sometimes, I had problems with a couple of little spots, but never associated them with powder from the gloves. I always wipe down the rod section prior to dipping. I believe surface cleaning/prep before finishing a MUST!  (David Dziadosz)


Some time ago, based on a thread here on the List, I bought a jeweler's hex mandrel to make nickel silver hex winding checks.

Now that I am ready to actually do it, I realize I have no clue as to the actual process to take a round check and make it hex.  Any hints??  (Jim Rowley)

    Here is what I do.  I place the round check on the mandrel, and then put the mandrel in a vice (perpendicular so the check is resting on the jaws).  I close the vice so there is just a little wiggle room between the mandrel and the jaws.  I cover the vice jaws with 2 pieces of 90 degree angle aluminum as an FYI.  I then gently tap on the mandrel with a hammer to start forcing the round shape into the hex shape.  As my mandrel has a fairly steep taper to it, I usually take the check off every few taps and reverse it.  That way I am getting a more consistent ID on either side of the check.  I have found that heating the check somewhat helps with the entire process.  (Louis DeVos)

    Make the hole  in  the  round  check  slightly  larger  than  the flat-to-flat dimensions of the blank. Slide the check down the tapered mandrel till it snugs up. Tap it lightly on each of the six sides with a small soft hammer. I use a brass jewelers hammer, but have even used a little 4 oz. ball peen hammer. I usually make 4-5 taps, then turn 1/6 of a turn.

    Repeat over and over. Eventually you'll have a nice hex shaped check. (Harry Boyd)

      I think JD Wagner had a worksheet he included with his hex mandrel which gave directions on using and how to pick the proper size round check.  (Scott Grady)

    I made hex shaped checks for the last two rods.

    I used a round nickel silver check with the inside circumference slightly more than the distance around the six sides of the rod section at the top of the grip.

    I annealed the check by heating until red with a propane torch and dropping it in a can of water. I held the check with a piece of wire while doing this.

    Then placed the check over the hex mandrel held in a vise. I used a washer (in my case a 7/16 inch washer) on top of the check and then placed a scrap piece of 1/2 inch pipe over the washer. I hammered on the top of  the pipe to get the check to slide down the mandrel to the spot I had marked with a sharpie pen for the size hex check I wanted.

    It worked so well, fast slick and easy I impressed myself the first time I did it. Things hardly ever have worked out that well on a first try for me.  (Joe Hudock)


I’m trying to make NS winding checks and I’ve got a question for you engineers out there. Is there a formula to figure out what size diameter to drill out a piece of round stock, so that I may then form it into a hex winding check and it end up fitting nicely against the sides of the blank?  (Ren Monllor)

    Mark Shamburg has addressed this.  See this link.  (Dave Burley)

      I’m actually looking for the formula so as to be able to apply it to any measurement I might have a need for.  (Ren Monllor)

        I guess you are looking for a polygon in a circle formula. Figure 56 herein shows an inscribed hexgonal polygon.  However, to paraphrase this reference, most polygons in a circle cannot be represented by an algebraic formula.  (Dave Burley)

        Don't complicate things.  The inside diameter of the winding check needs to be the outside measurement of the rod.  Measure one flat, multiply by 6; that gives you the measurement.

        Then pi.d equals that measurement, so you can work out the internal diameter of the winding check, and thus the diameter of the drill, with one simple sum on your calculator.  (Peter McKean)

          Now you are complicating things.

          Just multiply flat to flat by 1.1  and go next drill bit size up.  (Steve Dugmore)

      The link Dave has given has a second link in it to get to a download of an Excel spreadsheet to do the calculation.  The Excel equation Mark uses for hexagonal checks is:


      He then takes 98% of this to allow for stretch in forming the hex from a circular check.

      For those who have a problem remembering such an equation (me, for example), the apex-to-apex measurement of a hexagon is approximately 115.5% of the flat-to-flat measurement.  Multiply that by Mark's 98% and you get about 113%.  (Tim Anderson)

        ... or, pick a drill bit smaller than the point-to point and larger than the flat-to flat.  Beat on the part until it fits.  (Grayson Davis)

    Size hole for making hexagonal hole in winding check to fit rod? Am I missing something? Measure across flats where winding check will be. File or broach hex That's it.  (Vince Brannick)

    Diameter of drill bit is approximately 1.1 times flat to flat measurement.

    Formula if my math is correct is

    Dia = 3H/(PI x SIN(60)) 

    where H is the flat to flat measurement  (Steve Dugmore)


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